Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Oxford NABRE Large Print

As has been mentioned on this blog on numerous occasions, we Catholics do not have anywhere near the number of quality, premium leather Bibles that our Protestant brothers and sisters do.  I dare say that we may have a handful at best.  The NABRE, like the other Catholic translations, can be found in plenty of paperback and hardcover editions, not to mention what seems like an infinite number of pseudo and imitation leather editions.  One would think that of all the Catholic translations, the NABRE, since it sold by a number of different publishers would, but alas that is not the case.

There is, however, one company that has produced the NABRE in genuine leather, that being Oxford University Press.  In the past, they have offered genuine leather NAB's in their study bibles, compact editions, readers editions, and large print ones.  When the NABRE was published back in 2011, I was expecting the same treatment.  Except for the large print version, this has yet to happen.

As a matter of fact, I was truly looking forward to the readers edition of the NABRE, much like the NAB, but they seem to not have bothered even publishing one.  Which is a real shame, since the text was extremely readable, with the notes and cross-references delegated to the back of each biblical book.  Therefore, it was an edition that would be perfect for spiritual reading and lectio divina.

The Catholic Study Bible seems to have also received very little attention.  Not only has it not been updated in its reading guides, but it is not available in genuine leather either.  All previous editions had been, which is a real shame.

So, this leads me to the NABRE Large Print from Oxford, which is covered in a marbled genuine leather.  It isn't the smooth and flexible one that they covered the NOAB NRSV 4th Edition in, but it is actually genuine leather and not bonded.   It is almost identical to the genuine leather RSV-CE readers edition that came out about 10 years ago.  Dei Verbum is included with the biblical text and the notes/cross-references. The box it came in, as well as some sellers, mention that the full lectionary readings are included, this is not the case.  The compact NABRE and the Catholic Study Bible editions do contain all weekday and Sunday lectionary readings.

The binding is also sewn.  As you can see with the photos, the text is very readable, the notes and cross-references being placed at the back of each book.  This makes it good for prayerful reading or for teaching. The gold gild edges give it a classy look to it, as well as the gold ribbon marker.  Some people don't like the Oxford tabs, but I think they are just fine.

Overall, this may be one of the nicest NABRE bibles in print.   I would dare say that it may be the most luxurious, if I may say so, Catholic bible in print today.  The only bibles that would come would be from Baronius Press, that being either their Knox or Douay editions.  The NRSV's from HarperOne are close, but unfortunately they are often printed on super-thin paper and wrapped in cheap imitation leather.

So, if you are looking for a genuine leather Catholic Bible, without having it rebound, I'd recommend this edition.


Anonymous said...

I bought one in the high hope that it would have a nice cover. I agree with you vis a vis the layout, text, sewn craftsmanship, etc. However, the cover looks like very thin real leather that was run through a machine for texture and then sprayed or dipped in varnish. It's like they took real leather and did everything they could to make it look like cheap bonded leather.

If you've got a case of Protestant Bible envy, this one's not going to pull you out of your funk.

Peter Brennan

Timothy said...

I agree with you Peter. It is a shame that they didn't use the more supple leather that is found on the NOAB.

Leighton said...

"Protestant Bible envy"... classic, Peter. I agree. I bought this one when it first came out, and use it for teaching mostly. The print size is good for that.I like the Bible, but the leather does seem lower grade genuine. It would be a wonderful thing if Bible publishers would provide a Catholic Bible that says by its quality, "Hey, we Catholics LOVE the Bible. We cherish the Bible. We take the Bible so seriously we are going to craft an elegant, beautiful edition that will last a lifetime and more." Someday...

Timothy said...

It is also a shame that this may be one of the closest contenders to pulling us out of out Protestant bible envy funk.

David Garcia said...

In my Episcopalian days, I had the Oxford Book of Common Prayer Reader's Edition which I have a feeling (based on others' comments) is the exact same leather that's on this NABRE. Yes, it's genuine (which is better than nothing) but it's that glossy, varnished, plastic-y leather. Again, still better than nothing and I am looking forward to the arrival of my new Oxford NABRE!

rolf said...

Timothy, I was looking through my Bibles and trying to decide which one to send to Leonard's for a re-bind. This is the one I chose. It is a nice Bible. The NABRE has become the Bible that I use the most (RSV-2CE second) and I wanted a nice copy for my main everyday Bible. My everyday Bible has to be a large print and this Oxford edition has a nice size 12 font. As mentioned already, the notes are in the back of each book which make it very nice for general reading and prayer.
As you mentioned Timothy, if this Bible would have had the genuine leather cover of the NOAB-RSV I would have been satisfied, but it is very stiff and slippery in the hand (which is the way I read my Bible most of the time). The synthetic cover version of this Bible is a better option in my opinion, it is not slippery and feels softer (and it is cheaper).
So I sent this Bible to Leonard's nearly a month ago and I am having it rebound in a distressed walnut pebble grain cowhide leather (which is extra thick for larger size Bibles). I am having them add burgundy imitation leather end pages, two burgundy ribbon markers (to go with the one gold one that it already has), 'Holy Bible' on the spine and 'NAB' right below that(both in gold). The front cover will be bare. I should be getting this Bible sometime next week or so. I can send some pictures when it is complete.

Timothy said...

Rolf, that would be great! Would love to post your results.

rolf said...

It is a mystery to me also why Oxford has not published The 'Catholic Study Bible' in genuine leather. It may be because they have not updated the notes for the NABRE. But they did not offer a genuine leather option for their 'Catholic Bible-Personal Study Edition' either, and its notes were updated for the NABRE.
Many publishers do not even offer a large print edition of the NABRE (three years after it was first published). Only this Oxford edition and Catholic Book Publishing Co. (which offers large and giant print options).
Ignatius Press published their RSV-2CE eight years ago, and still no large print (or compact) option. I have a woman in my Bible study class who is nearly blind and she relies on a giant print Bible, at least Catholic Book Publishing still puts one out! I have since shown her my kindle and she is going to buy one.

Timothy said...

It is a real shame that those who need large print have only limited options. While I don't need the large print, I must say I really enjoy reading from this bible.

rolf said...

Another though just came to my mind (yes my mind is active this morning). I was recently at a large Christian book store which has a very large selection of Bibles (yes they carry Catholic Bibles also). After looking in the Catholic section, I looked at the ESV section (which is large), and I noticed that there were very few leather Bibles offered (bonded or genuine), the majority were the synthetic covers. Could it be that the younger Christian Bible buyers are mostly buying synthetic covers now? They offer so many colors and designs that probably appeal to the younger crowd (15-30). And they would appeal to vegetarians/vegans who don't want animals harmed to make a hamburger or a Bible. Maybe this is a new trend?

David Garcia said...

Rolf... You are right on the button. Without sounding disparaging, i don't think the 15-30 crowd was ever really taught about or exposed to 'old world' Bible quality. They grew up on the 'latest and greatest' and what's 'in'. They never knew what they were missing with quality Bibles and so the BIble market changed to suit them - trendy, low-quality, eye-catching Bibles. And that 15-30 generation has eaten them up!

i think in addition to that, they spend $330-$400 on cell phones and wouldn't even dream of spending $100+ on a Bible. I think the publishers know this and so they have produced a whole line of $20-$40 Bibles.

Anonymous said...

Hello Timothy, et al.

This is slightly off topic, but I was wondering which Catholic Study Bible others thought was the best. I've been thinking about buying the OUP Catholic Bible, Personal Study Edition in bonded leather, but before making the purchase, I thought I'd get some other opinions.



rolf said...

John, I like it, especially the nearly 500 page reading guide. It is similar to the Catholic Study Bible, but it Also puts information on the text page which many of us non-scholars like. There is review on this blog if you search for it. The notes on this edition are updated for the NABRE unlike the Catholic Study Bible.

rolf said...

David, I am the opposite. I would spent 100+ for a Bible and would never spend 300-400 dollars for a phone. But I spend a lot more time reading my Bible than I would ever spend on a phone!

Timothy said...

Comment from Theophrastus that I deleted by accident::

Tim, you write:

As a matter of fact, I was truly looking forward to the readers edition of the NABRE, much like the NAB, but they seem to not have bothered even publishing one. Which is a real shame, since the text was extremely readable, with the notes and cross-references delegated to the back of each biblical book. Therefore, it was an edition that would be perfect for spiritual reading and lectio divina.

Don't both the Oxford large print edition and compact editions also put the notes and cross-references at the back of each biblical book? How do these editions fall short of the NAB reader's edition you mention?


Slightly off topic: I think it is a pity that the USCCB pocket edition of the gospels and Acts will include the NAB notes. I recall that the Pope was quoted as saying on March 16th:

The pope suggested a bus-ride reading of the Gospels, when possible, "because many times on the bus we're packed in and have to maintain our balance and defend our pockets" from pickpockets, he said. "But when you have a seat" on the bus or a minute or so free somewhere else, "pick up the Gospel and read a few words."

It seems implausible that bus riders are clamoring for a gospel edition with notes. Perhaps an edition with simply the text is more practical in that instance.

Timothy said...


1) I preferred the readers edition simply due to its size. I had the original NAB one I liked it quite a bit.

2) The notes are located as endnotes so they are not distracting at all.

Sorry for accidentally deleting your comment!

David Garcia said...

BTW i found a very nice personal/compact NABRE. It's St. Joseph so it has the goofy artwork inside, but the synthetic cover is really nice, the font is dark and very readable, and it's sewn!


Timothy said...

But it doesn't use endnotes right? ;)

David Garcia said...

LOL! No, it's the typical NABRE layout with everything on the page. :) But if you/anyone are looking for an inexpensive, compact NABRE to knock around with, this could be it!

Anonymous said...

Hello Rolf,

Thank you for your input. When I was searching around, I noticed that you also wrote a review on the Little Rock Study Bible. Of the two in question, which one do you prefer, because as it happens, those two are the ones I've narrowed it down to.

Thanks again!


rolf said...

Hi John,
For everyday reading I like the LRSB because of the nice page layout, single column text and the synthetic cover on the deluxe version (which might not be offered right now). For general study I like the Catholic Bible-PSE because of the nearly 500 page reading guide in the front, in page maps are good, and the extensive maps in the back. The bonded leather is not as nice as the synthetic cover of the LRSB in my opinion.
This is why I eventually bought both.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Rolf! I appreciate it.

Now all I have to do is makeup my mind.


Jason Engel said...

Based on your review, I would think this Bible deserves to go to a bookbindery for a new cover in a proper leather.

Timothy said...


It very well might happen. This is the nicest NABRR on the market. One could hope a nicer one would be on the way. This would be a nice Allan Bible......... Oh well....

Jonny said...

The large print is definitely a help for some with poor eyesight, but I would not consider having the notes and cross-references in the back to be an improvement, despite the questionable content of some of the notes.

This over-sized thick Bible is a bit hefty for me. I like the thinner medium sized one from World Catholic Press:

It is bonded leather, available with or without thumb tabs. I do prefer the tabs because my main use for the NABRE is quick reference as a secondary translation.

I think this World Press edition is the best one available, but I am not sure I would spend the cash to get it rebound in premium leather. After all, even the bonded leather will still be intact by the time the next revision of NABRE comes out!

Kind of a sad story, the NABRE. They worked on the OT from 1994-2001, JUST BEFORE Liturgium Authenticam was released and sunk its chances for use in the liturgy. Then, the Psalter was painstakingly revised back in forth from Rome dozens of times between 2008 and 2010, JUST BEFORE the Revised Grail Psalter was exclusively approved for new lectionaries. So now the entire NABRE Psalter will be completely scrapped in favor of the Revised Grail. Bottom line is this: right now the NABRE has an inconsistent use of "inclusive language" between the Psalter (non-inclusive) and the rest of the Bible, and the entire thing is going to be redone.

Honestly, it was hard for me not to feel cheated when I found out the NAB was going to be revised AGAIN, just a couple months after I bought the above-mentioned Bible hot off the press, along with multiple copies for family members! In time I have come to appreciate having the NABRE; it is a significant improvement in places over the previous edition, especially the Psalms. However, am not surprised that no one seems eager to publish this thing in goatskin!

rolf said...

I think you will still get a lot of use out of your NABRE before the next revision. It will take years. Most Catholics don't change their Bibles every time there is a revision. Most probably can't name the translation that they have (imho, from years of teaching Bible study and RCIA). Those of us that hang on every change of the NAB or RSV, etc. are few in number compared to your average parishioners in the pews. Even in my small Bible study group of twelve people, only two have the NABRE. And these people I have kept informed of the changes to the NAB over the years. The NIV is in its third major change since the 1970's, and I am sure the Alan's can sell it in goatskin with no problem.

Jonny said...

You are right, Rolf, I will get a lot more use out of my NABRE before the next revision. I would like to point out that the bonded leather on the World edition is one of the best examples of bonded leather I have seen. It is in fact quite similar in feel and appearance to the St. Benedict Press DR genuine leather, the Oxford NOAB genuine leather, and the french morocco NRSV from Cambridge. The perceptible difference? The leather is very slightly thinner.

Now I do have some bonded leather editions that are closer to the look and feel of cheap vinyl... the CSSB and Oxford large print RSV especially. The RSV-2CE isn't too far behind... but the nice mahogany color and decorative cover make me want to keep it in its original form.

I have also observed a general apathy amongst Catholics regarding Bible editions. Many are content with whatever one they got at their Confirmation, wedding, or etc, be it paperback or whatever. I do like a nice Bible, but folks like me tend to have 10 or more editions of multiple translations in a rotation, and are still buying more!!! I'm not sure it is worth an extra 200 bucks to have one particular edition rebound. I do have a couple premium Protestant editions, and I just don't see the value of having a cover that is slightly softer. And aren't the endurahyde covers even softer, more durable, and a fraction of the cost?

Despite the inevitable differences of opinion on this issue, I don't think ANY Catholic should suffer "Bible envy" against Protestants! They cannot even agree if any given translation is acceptable, let alone agree on the meaning of even the most straightforward Gospel passages! Perhaps this premium Bible phenomenon among Protestants is an effort to overcompensate for something? They should be the ones envious of us! Remember, it is what's INSIDE that counts! ;)